Gregory Kenny is the founder and head designer of Vancouver-based Kilowatt Studio. His work first came to our attention with Nest and Pod, two cat (or small dog) beds that strike an elegant balance between luxury and simplicity. His attention to detail, respect of craft, use of indigenous North American species, rigorous process of research and design are all part of Gregory’s signature style.
As with all interviews, the objective with this one was to get to know the designer behind the great pieces coming out of Kilowatt Studio. What I discovered in Kenny was the quintessential Canadian: talented, modest but confident, and inspired by his surroundings. For instance, Slope was a commissioned piece inspired by the slopes of Whistler.
The West Coast seems to have a good cache of creative people who are making an important contribution to modern design in Canada. Although some people criticize modern design as being sterile and lacking in character, you need only see Kenny’s work to recognize that that is a very narrow-minded view of this multifaceted aesthetic. Hand crafted from wool, organic cotton, bamboo, and many other different species of wood, his pieces are nothing if not warm and approachable.
Enjoy the Q & A!
Without question the single most influential medium for me is architecture. I’m envious of the endless roster of materials that are available and find myself reading the resource section in the back of architectural magazines to source new products. The availability of new technology is also very inspiring, from laser cutters and CNC machining, to large format printing, which offers endless colour possibilities.
Who's work do you admire?
A young woman named Elena Manferdini just hit my radar and I think her work is beautiful. She moves between fashion, furniture, product design and architecture seamlessly. Her “Fabric Tower” submission for a competition in Guizhou Province China is stunning.
Japanese architect, Tadao Ando, is always an inspiration, not only because he is self-taught(!) but also for his work in concrete.
What would be your dream commission?
Under the category of “be careful what you wish for” I would like to design a small shop/store. An acquaintance approached me some time ago about a salon she is hoping to open and my mind hasn’t stopped spinning since.
How would you characterize West Coast design as opposed to Canadian design in general? Or can a distinction be made?
That’s a good question. In Vancouver, studio furniture leans towards the “warm wood” look, with a definite penchant for local species like Douglas Fir, Cedar and Western Maple, not surprising when you look at the city’s surroundings. Outside of that one distinction I think Vancouver is a melting pot of design styles influenced by the countless cultures the city has.
You have worked on several film and television sets. What was your favourite project?
I was lucky enough to spend six weeks in the Canadian Rockies building sets for a large feature film. Sure it was the middle of winter but with mountains surrounding you as the sun comes up, you forget about the cold, for about one minute!
What would you like to design next?
I would love to design and build a large dining room table with three very West Coast elements, concrete, glass and a huge tree stump.
His high standards, his passion for the environment as well as his love of animals are beautifully illustrated in his work.